I’m taking part in the A-Z April Blog Challenge.
Join me every day (except Sundays) throughout April for the next letter in the alphabet!
Something different on each Letter of the alphabet!
Nazareth, a small farming community, is in east central Castro County at the intersection of State Highway 86 and Farm Road 168, fifty-eight miles south of Amarillo.
Nazareth was established through the efforts of a Catholic priest, Joseph Reisdorff, who moved to the site in 1902 with four farmers interested in purchasing land in the area. Father Reisdorff named his colony after the biblical Nazareth and advertised for settlers in several midwestern German Catholic newspapers.
The families of brothers V. A., J. A. and T. P. McCormick and other Irish families came to this area from New York in the early 1890’s. The Rev. Joseph Reisdorff arrived in 1902 to establish a Catholic parish. Advertising in German-language newspapers in the U.S. Midwest, he induced many German Catholic families to settle here.The church remains a focal point of community activities.
A post office was established in 1903, and later that year the Catholic community finished building its first church. Nazareth had seventy-one residents by January 1904, and the town was platted latter that year. By 1905, in addition to the church, the settlement included a blacksmith shop, a store, and a school; when the community’s cemetery was consecrated in 1906, it became the only Catholic cemetery in the area.
During the 1930’s the area was swept by huge dust storms that uprooted crops and made farming unprofitable. Agriculture in Castro county revived during the 1940’s, however, and by 1941 about 200 people were living there. The population fluctuated during the 1950’s and 1960, dropping to about 75 in 1955, then rising to an estimated 275 by 1964; the census found 274 people living in the town in 1970 and 299 in 1980. As late as the mid-1980’s about 85 percent of the town’s residents were Catholics, and church activities helped to bond the community together. In 1990 the population stood at 293. The population grew to 356 in 2000.
The Home Mercantile Store was a gathering place for Nazareth. Community members sat on a long window ledge at the front of the store to talk and watch life go by. On Thursday nights, the store stayed open until 10 p.m. for poker games, with the poker players often buying sandwiches.
Some of the most interesting evening social events were the boxing matches held in the middle of the store. No referee was appointed for these matches. In those days, anyone who wanted to box just showed up, with most of the contestants being young boys from the community looking for an outlet other than farming and school. The store also opened up on Sunday mornings after Mass so people could get the paper and anything else they needed.
Come back on Monday to learn about O’Brien!